The CFDA Fashion Library

The commentary on last night’s Council of Fashion Designers of America Awards red carpet have subsided, the best dressed lists are out, so it seems prime time to take a book break.  As the preeminent trade association of more than 400 of America’s foremost womenswear, menswear, jewelry and accessory designers, the council and it’s president Diane Von Furstenberg, have the ultimate insider access to the minds and archives of America’s greatest fashion houses.  Taking this advantage to heart, the CFDA has produced a magnificent collection of books that any fashion lover would want to own.  Assouline and Harry N. Abrams are the respective publishers, so expect vivid photography and top notch commentary.  I do happen to own most of the list, but the one I don’t own has been extensively examined and lovingly fondled in the bookstore for your benefit. You’re welcome!

American Fashion

This is the book that started it all.  Commissioned by CFDA, it is a visually stunning glance at the history of American fashion from the early 1930s through the 1990s. From the importance of Hollywood to the impact of television, it is more than 300 pages of quintessential American style. Enjoy revisiting many of the iconic fashion photos that are a part of our mutual fashion psyche such as Katherine Hepburn at the height of the studio system or a fresh faced Cybill Shepherd exemplifying the fresh face blonde of the 1970s.  You can’t call yourself a student of fashion and not own this book.

American Fashion Accessories

The devil is into the details and this CFDA-commissioned follow up to American Fashion explores the jewelry, hats, gloves and shoes that have become icons of the American fashion style.  Is there anything more artsy Americana than the enduring obsession to Bakelite?  What American childhood was ever void of Chuck Taylors?  Artfully bridging the gap from accessory pioneer Bonnie Cashin to the empire that became Kate Spade, from the impact of Elizabeth Taylor’s oversized jewels and the seismic shift caused by the beret worn by Faye Dunaway in Bonnie and Clyde, accessories show us the individualism at the heart of American style.

American Fashion Menswear

With a foreword by Ralph Lauren, who has successfully designed and marketed the visual archetypes that exemplify the American male, this volume explores the functionality of Levi Strauss, the dapper images of Sinatra and Fred Astaire, and how the cowboy has become a touchstone of the individuality of American male style.  Although historically centered, it is not stuck in the past, it does a great job of exploring the importance of modern style in the rap community as well as the continued evolution of preppy fashion. Women may be the biggest consumers of fashion, but this book serves as a great guide to the power of a strong male image.

American Fashion Travel:  Designers on the Go

The fashion set is often referred to as jet set-but where do they jet off to? Peak into the private travel diary of Lincoln Center’s finest.  You have heard designers often espouse about how travel plays a great part in their collections from color and fabric to ethnic prints.  Travel along and explore the locales that soothe their wanderlust and see how miles traveled translates to the runway. You’ll learn their travel philosophies, such as never going to the same place twice and the skill of traveling light.

American Fashion Designers at Home

Designers are expected to bring fashion and beauty to the runways, but do things change when they escape the spotlight into their own homes?  The answer, as expected, is a resounding no.  See how fabrics, silhouette and scale are just as important into how your favorite designers live.  The photos reveal the colorful, comfortable and chic abodes and is probably the only place you can visit the homes of Tory Burch, Carolina Herrera and Kate Spade in one seating.  It deserves a place on any interior design lover’s bookshelf.

The Pursuit of Style:  Advice and Musings from America’s Top Designers

We all love a good Who Wore it Best-this is the answer to Who Said it Best.  Beautifully illustrated by the wonderful Bill Donovan, it is a fun and witty romp through the minds of designers.  From their style inspirations, favorite muses and their favorite vacations, questions were asked, and the stylish set answered.

American Fashion Cookbook:  100 Designers Best Recipes

With a foreword from the legendary Martha Stewart, this book is a very good thing.  I consider myself a foodie and a fashionista, so obtaining new recipes from my fave designer’s kitchen is just as interesting as their latest runway.  I find it funny that I own this book, since cooking is not my strongest domestic skill, but I find Top Chef and Project Runway equally riveting.  If you find the creative process stimulating, whether the artist’s’ medium is fabric or flavor, add this beautiful book to your library.

Designers on Instagram  #fashion

Published by Harry N. Abrams, this is the newest edition into the group, just released 6 weeks ago. If you would enjoy a perfect compilation into the inspirations, mood boards, back stages and parties of your fave designers, this is your new delegated Instagram account. I do not own this one yet, but I’ve perused it thoroughly at my local Barnes and it is #1 on my Amazon wish list.  I’ve already made room for it on my bookshelf so my wallet should consider it a fashionable fait accompli.